So VoiceStick, one of my free VoIP service providers decided they were going to start charging money. I was on the Next2Nothing plan where all incoming calls were free, but they would charge 2¢/min for all outgoing calls. I was fine with that since I didn’t plan to make any outgoing calls.
However a month or 2 back, they secretly started charging money without notifying the users. I only found out after Ungsunghero mentioned it to me and realized I had a negative balance. Since I was on the “free” plan, there was no need to provide a credit card and I might have started out with some free credit. When I saw my balance, it was at -$1.32 or something like that.
I’ve mentioned VoiceStick previously, stating how they were better than IPKall both in quality and the fact they can provide local numbers from anywhere in the USA. IPKall restricted your number to be in the Seattle area which was either 425, 206, 360, or 253. My IPKall still works fine and I haven’t had any problems with it, but now I lost a local number for my parents in LA to call me. Worse case scenario, they can still call my cell phone.
Anyway, I was just telling Derek and Tekman a few weeks back about GrandCentral, because Tekman needed a number which wasn’t long distance for his son’s school to call him. I told him about GrandCentral and how it’s basically choose a number and get free call forwarding. GrandCentral has a whole slew of neat features. Call forwarding is just one of the many.
I believe GrandCentral (being in beta) is still an invite-only service, so if you’re interested, feel free to leave your name and email in the comment area.
This got me thinking… Can I get a local number in LA (626 area code) and have it forward to my IPKall phone number. I decided to give it a shot and it turned out quite successful. Initially, I was having some quality trouble, where I had a hard time hearing the other side and vice versa. It turned out it was because I was “uploading”, which caused more deterioration of the VoIP connection than previously with my other VoIP services. Of course the quality isn’t as good as what VoiceStick was before and probably worser now since it’s going through 2 VoIP connections (first through GrandCentral, then through IPKall/FWD), but I asked my parents to give it a try and with my “uploading” software closed, the quality was actually rather good.
Setting up GrandCentral is pretty easy. You provide some information, give it an area code/address and it’ll return you a set of phone numbers to choose from. I wanted one that was easy to remember (basically one with repetitions of digits and found a pretty good one after going through about 30).
Setting up IPKall is a bit more difficult. At this point, I’m going to assume you already have a VoIP Phone Adapter (such as the “unlocked” Linksys PAP2) or you’ll be using a PC-Phone software (somewhat like Skype) provided to you by FWD.
IPKall isn’t exactly a VoIP service. They’re sort of a door that can connect a phone number to an existing VoIP service that allows incoming connections. They recommend FWD (Free World Dialup) as the VoIP service provider. FWD doesn’t provide actual phone numbers, but they allow incoming connections and what IPKall does is to connect an incoming call into that VoIP service. I’d suggest setting up the FWD account before you setup the IPKall account.
Creating an account on FWD is pretty straight forward. What you’ll want to keep note of is what your FWD Number is and the password you set. You’ll need this information to setup your VoIP Phone Adapter. Here are the settings I have on my Linksys PAP2:
SIP Port: 5060
Use Outbound Proxy: No
User ID: Your FWD Number
Password: Your FWD Password
Use Auth ID: Yes
Auth ID: Your FWD Number
Anything I didn’t mention, I’m assuming it’s the default. After saving, check the registration state and see if it changes to Online. It usually takes less than 5 minutes if the information you enter is correct.
Creating an IPKall account is pretty much like GrandCentral. You give them some information, select the area code you want, then select your phone number. After your account is created, update the following settings:
SIP Phone Number: Your FWD Number
SIP Proxy: fwd.pulver.com
Although it says it may take up to 60 minutes for the changes to take effect, I’ve noticed that creating a new account can take a day before the phone number starts working.
Now go back into GrandCentral and tell it to forward all calls to the IPKall phone number you just setup and everything should work just fine!
If you need help, feel free to leave a comment.